A lot of things are getting shuffled around for 2017, the rules, the drivers, the tires and even the owners. So it’s safe to assume that the sport will be undergoing some major changes too and it’ll be exciting to see how these changes affect F1. Let’s look at the drivers and teams first, though.
After the World Champion announced his shocking exit from the sport, the driver market went crazy with everyone on the grid wanting to get his seat. This change of driver for Mercedes was much needed from the fans’ point of view as since 2014, there weren’t many exciting battles between the two Mercs and seemed like they were just leading a procession of cars. The whole dynamic of the team will change this year with Valtteri coming in. He’s a totally different character from Nico. He has talent and potential which we’ve seen from him at Williams F1. Mercedes did go to some extent to make sure they get him for 2017 even when they had multiple options. So he must be worth all that trouble. But expect the driver battle to get better. It’s difficult to compare the drivers as they’re very different but that might give us some better racing upfront. Bottas has clearly mentioned that he will not be playing 2nd fiddle to Hamilton when he said
“I am not here to be in second place or worse. It is definitely a challenge and going up against Lewis is always going to be a challenge, but for me a massive opportunity.
“I respect what he has done with his career, so many poles, wins and three titles – I still don’t have a race win – so I have a lot to prove, but everything is still ahead so it is going to be an exciting year.”
It’s clear that Bottas is here to win and we hope that he puts up a good title challenge against Lewis. If they still have the best car, that is.
Red Bull Racing
Red Bull having finished 2nd in constructors last year with that huge turn around in the middle of the season and with the aero changes, they can expect to win races and fight for the world championship. That would make Max and Daniel title contenders which could change their so far joyful relationship. They have worked well together this past year but weren’t fighting to win races. Things wouldn’t be as smooth as they’ve been when the title is at stake. The Red Bull winning days of Vettel and Webber are an example. We also saw how it changed long time friends Lewis and Nico as well. Both the drivers will be fighting for race wins. With Ricciardo putting in those quick qualifying laps and Max overtaking drivers where they least expect. Both are exceptional driver and hopefully can fight for race wins.
With an anti-climatic end to the year for Ferrari by losing 2nd place to Red Bull, they will be looking to bounce back. With some shuffling in the management and return of some prominent figures to the chassis department, it is still to be seen if they’ll be able to mount a title challenge this year. Kimi did have some great form towards the end of last year. He out-qualified 11-10 last year and will be looking to carry that form to this year. Sebastian however didn’t have a good year in 2016. And it hasn’t been a great 2017 so far as well after he crashed out of Pirelli’s wet tyre test at Fiorano. Nevertheless he’ll be optimistic and pray for a better car this year. Kimi was named Finland’s ambassador of sport earlier this year which might boost his confidence for this season. The two have had a great relationship this far and both understand what it takes to become world champion. There shouldn’t be any friction between them but when it comes to the title, anything can happen.
F1 cars will be lower, wider and better to look at and will be significantly quicker in 2017. The regulations have been opened up for more flexibility in the aero department. Quicker lap times will be a result of the increased downforce because of aero changes. But experts believe that it is still an Engine formula as more downforce means more drag and more power is needed to overcome it. So until Renault makes a significant update (doing away with token system helps) in 2017, Red Bull despite their aero gains might not be able to challenge the Mercs. The racing probably won’t be better this year as higher downforce will make it harder to follow another car (which was already difficult with previous regulations). And trashing the token system won’t help the smaller teams and is totally going against reducing costs in F1. Honestly it feels like F1 is confused with what it wants to be right now. But with the new owners and a new management structure and with promising words from Ross Brawn, we might see some significant long terms steps taken unlike the artificial short term ones that haven’t given any good results. The higher downforce cars this year will mean greater G-forces making the car physically more difficult to drive. All the drivers would be looking to strengthen those neck muscles to corner faster. 2017 might or might not improve the racing, only time will tell. But the cars will be better to look at and faster through the corners which is something to look forward to.